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You r Frie nd has just tackle d

yo u. Bit e, lic k, or ta ckle

them ba ck, or cl ick here
to t heor iz e ab ou t wh at thi s
all me ans.

Kim De Vries
California State University,
Faculty on Facebook

Facebook is growing into a massive online society

that is inhabited by many different groups using
Facebook in a variety of ways for a variety of

The academics studying Facebook generally join it

and use it in order to observe students. Now that
more faculty are using Facebook outside the
classroom, to organize events and to socialize,
we must turn the focus to our own use of Facebook
as well.
Limits and Approaches
This is an early report
on work in progress.
It is shameless auto-
It draws on the the
concepts of “asence” and
“co-presence” proposed
by Jonathan Marshall and
Shanyang Zhao,
respectively, and on the
hybrid foam metaphor Old BeOS screensaver for Mac
proposed by Mirko Tobias
Social Software
Is Facebook a social
network, a web
interface, a game?
A metaphor of hybrid
foam helps describe the
characteristics I wish
to explore.
Seemingly enclosed
worlds, but touching,
intersecting, and
permeable membranes
belie the apparent
safety or closed nature.
Where is the line
between private and
professional life?
How does the feeling
that virtual actions are
less real change when
they are private or
Does the tension between
what's private and
what's not encourage a
spirit of play?
Does play = embodiment?
Models of Online Community
➢ Social
➢ Fan
➢ Hacker
➢ Artistic
➢ Professional
Behavioral norms differ
depending on which kind of
community you think you are
Transgressive games
Because it isn't quite
“real” transgressive
behavior is more common,
but is also encouraged
by game structures.
In the Vampires game,
players are encouraged
to attack, trick,
challenge and taunt
other players, all of
who are friends or
perhaps “friends.”
Virtual Gestures
Users may perceive these
actions as merely
humorous, but they seem
to enhance co-presence
At the same time, from
the outside the meaning
of these gestures is
ambiguous, and whatever
else they may be, they
are not professional.
Inter-penetrating Bubbles
This screen shot of the Nexus application from
Facebook shows connections between some of my
friends and is fairly accurate since it makes
no claims about relative strength of the ties.
The Challenge of Online
John Marshall:
participants in online
communities often
experience "asence" or
ontological uncertainty
because "there is no
marker of existence beyond
the act of communication
itself (Marshall 2004)."
Facebook games and other
applications mimic
physical experiences and
leave highly visible
Who did I just add?
“Yes, the picture. I
guess I just violated
facebook etiquette--it
is not me (maybe it is
the inner me). It is, of
course, 1950s hearthrob
Troy Donahue! I will
have to work on that.”

Eventually I discovered
that he was the husband
of a friend...
What is Real?

* Tension between the

real and unreal world
* Tension between the
real and fictional world
* Tension between the
private and the public
* Tension between the
personal and the
We like to create
worlds, but rather than
the completely enclosed
safety of fiction,
games, or a private
space, maybe the most
fun and the closest
connections are to be
found in spheres bound
by permeable membranes,
always offering the
possibility of
transference, and secret
identities revealed.
Boyd, Danah. "Choose Your Own Ethnography: In Search of
(Un)Mediated Life." Paper presented at 4S, Montreal, Canada,
October 13, 2007.
Marshall, Jonathan. “The Online Body Breaks Out? Asence, Ghosts,
Cyborgs, Gender, Polarity and Politics.” Fibreculture Issue 3,
Schäfer, Mirko Tobias. “From Network to Foam: Heterogeneous and
hybrid relations in online sociality,” presentation at New
Network Theory, Amsterdam, June 29 2007
Zhao, Shanyang & Elesh, D. “Copresence as ‘Being With’: Social
Contact in Online Public Domains.” Information, Communication
& Society, V. 11, No. 4 June 2008, pp 565-583.
Zimmerman, Eric. “Narrative, Interactivity, Play, and Games,”
First Person. MIT Press: 2004, remediated at